31 August 2010

The End of an Era?

almost adv. very nearly, all but; implies very little short of

teacher n. a person who teaches or instructs

The Almost Teacher. It's been my self-identity six years in the making. Five years of undergraduate study, one year of student teaching, four very long months of a tedious job search...and to what does this all add up?

A teaching job.

Well, actually a semester-long substitute job teaching English in a high school that I have wanted to work at forever. It's not exactly what I have been working towards for so many years, but it's one important step closer to that.

This development begs a couple of  new questions for me, though. Am I still The Almost Teacher? If I am, what does this mean to me? And if I'm not, how do I now identify myself?

My friend and colleague, Sarah, recently blogged about this very conflict. When she wrote this, my thoughts were:

"We're all going to spend a lot of time in the near future evolving into the teachers we want to be, striving to prove to ourselves and various others that we are what we want to say we are. And the next step in that for many of us is certainly that first permanent job, whether it's already set in contractual stone or not."

I expressed this to her from a position of joblessness. At the time, my next step was to find another new job posting and apply for it. Now, my next step is to embark on a long-term subbing position. It's not permanent. It's not "set in contractual stone." But it's mine.

I won't be "almost" teaching. I'll be teaching. I'm already doing the things teachers do--going through all of my materials from last year to choose and revise what I can for the units and texts that I will be teaching again, researching and gathering new materials for the units and texts that I have not taught, thinking about how I will get to know my new students, etc. In a couple of short weeks, I will be doing more of what teachers do--implementing all of the things I have planned, revising what I have planned yet again to be accessible for this new group of students, grading, assessing, etc.

And all of this will be regardless of how long I do it.

Am I still The Almost Teacher?  Honestly, at this point, I don't know. I highly doubt that I will feel like The Almost Teacher for much longer--at least, not in the same sense.  So what's my new definition of The Almost Teacher?

The Almost Teacher n. A teacher who is almost the teacher she wants to be and who, through reflection, revision, and hard work, will never stop striving to be the teacher her students need.

An imperfect and incomplete definition, but for now, that's my story.

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